Tu­low­itzki makes solid first im­pres­sion in Toronto

New­est Blue Jays star em­braces move from cel­lar-dweller to con­tender

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - SPORTS - By John Chidley-Hill

TORONTO — Troy Tu­low­itzki is re­cov­er­ing from the shock of be­ing traded, but he’s ready to start win­ning.

The Blue Jays’ newly ac­quired short­stop made it clear he’s ready to get down to work af­ter Tues­day’s block­buster deal that sent him and re­liever LaTroy Hawkins from the Colorado Rock­ies to Toronto in ex­change for short­stop Jose Reyes, re­liever Miguel Cas­tro and mi­nor-league pitch­ers Jeff Hoff­man and Je­sus Tinoco.

Tu­low­itzki, who played his en­tire 10year ca­reer in Colorado, had long heard ru­mours about be­ing traded but ex­pected Rock­ies own­er­ship to tell him if he was go­ing to be moved.

“To be with a dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tion now is shock­ing,” Tu­low­itzki said Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, prior to tak­ing the field for the first time at Rogers Cen­tre. “At the same time, I’m look­ing for­ward to the fu­ture be­cause I see a win­ning team, a win­ning cul­ture. I know they haven’t won a World Se­ries here in a while, so to be a part of some­thing like that would be mem­o­rable.

“I think that’s what you play this game for, to win. I think there’s a great pos­si­bil­ity here that that could hap­pen and very soon.”

Tu­low­itzki said the lit­tle things of be­ing in the Jays or­ga­ni­za­tion stuck out to him.

“I’m still shocked when I walk in to a club­house and it’s not pur­ple, it’s dif­fer­ent for me,” he said, adding his fam­ily put him at ease about the move. “I think as games go on and I get some games un­der my belt and I meet these guys, go on a road trip, win some games, I think I’ll feel more com­fort­able.

“I think it’s some­thing I’m not go­ing to be able to force, it’s just go­ing to have to come when­ever it does.”

Tu­low­itzki made his Blue Jays de­but Wed­nes­day against the Philadelphia Phillies. Hawkins de­buted Tues­day in a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia, pitch­ing a score­less in­ning of re­lief.

The pair from Colorado are mov­ing from a Rock­ies team (43-56) that is in last in the Na­tional League West, to Toronto (51-51), which is in the hunt for a wild-card spot in the Amer­i­can League and could pos­si­bly catch the New York Yan­kees for top spot in the AL East.

“Now to wake up and know these games are very mean­ing­ful, ev­ery time you win a se­ries it means some­thing in the stand­ings, I think that will bring me back to my younger days when you wake up and all you were wor­ried about was win­ning,” said Tu­low­itzki. “When you’re wor­ried about win­ning and play­ing the game that right way, you usu­ally play bet­ter your­self.”

Tu­low­itzki is a ca­reer .299 hitter with 188 home runs and 657 runs bat­ted in. With the Rock­ies this sea­son he hit .300 with 12 homers and 53 RBI in 87 games.

“He’s a guy that comes in, maybe gives us a big jolt,” said Blue Jays man­ager John Gib­bons. “I don’t think you can ex­pect him to come in and save the day. He’s in new sur­round­ings, you never know how long it takes a guy to get com­fort­able.

“But, he’s a pretty damn good player and I think he’s re­ally go­ing to help us.”

Nor­mally a mid-or­der hitter, Tu­low­itzki took Reyes’s spot as the lead­off man, at least for his first game.

“As long as I’m play­ing, I’ll be happy,” said Tu­low­itzki. “Wher­ever I hit, it re­ally doesn’t mat­ter. Let’s be hon­est here, if it be­comes a prob­lem that we have so many mid­dle-of-the-or­der hit­ters I think it’s a good prob­lem that we’d all like to have.”

‘I’m still shocked when I walk in to a club­house and it’s not pur­ple, it’s dif­fer­ent for me’

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